Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ringing in 2012 with an overnight guest.

This morning, we got a call from Tri State Collie Rescue. I'd been planning to shoot them an e-mail next week to see if they had anything they needed help with, but they called out of the blue this morning and asked if we were available for a transport today. A litter of 10 week old Collie/mostly Collie pups had been brought to an Ohio shelter and one smooth sable male needed transport that would require the help of four volunteers to get him from his original location to what I assume is his foster home in Martinsville, IN, about an hour south of where we live. The woman who was pulling him from the shelter was waiting around near the shelter, which was an hour and a half from her house, to see if the rest of the transport chain would come together. She couldn't take him to her house for any length of time, she was battling Giardia with her own dogs. The lady after her was a go. We were a go. But the pick-up/foster in Martinsville couldn't do it tonight unless it was urgent. Which is how Smooth Operator, as Eric nicknamed him, ended up with us overnight, until we take him to Martinsville tomorrow afternoon. I'm thrilled that my dog is finally mostly an adult; I'm really not all that much of a puppy person. I enjoy adult dogs more...but it's been very fun having this sweet little guy around. He's underweight and has spent his whole life outdoors, but he is so...unbelievably...sweet. He's cuddly and loving to the point of clingy, he's the biggest kisser on the planet.

The adults are unsure about this interloper.

Violet reluctantly shares her water bowl.

Hungry pup.

His spot, all night.

Or here...between our his-and-hers sheep pjs.

Or here...

Maybe here, too...

And a little bit of here.

He's really, really adorable. I hope he ends up with a very happy home in 2012.

Speaking of which, 2012. It's going to be a really big year. This is the year that I will/intend to...
  • Get married.
  • Start a family.
  • Lose a certain amount of weight, or if nothing else, better health is inevitable with frequent exercise and a revamped cooking plan.
  • Compete with Violet for the first time.
  • Watch Eric compete with Piper for the first time.
  • Get Violet's CGC.
  • Maybe give herding a go, if we can find the time.
  • Start college.
  • Buy a second car.
  • Recarpet the house.
  • Put up a privacy fence? Maybe/probably.
  • Continue to volunteer at the daycare, and continue to do my small part to help Collies with TSCR.

I have never been so excited about a year in my life.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Rally Resolution.

German Shepherd Dog Club of Indiana is having an all-breed rally competition on March 31, 2012.

I would really like to do rally with Violet.

She's solid on most of the behaviors required to compete for a RN title. (Rally Novice, she'd make a crappy nurse. Collie hair all over sterile surfaces.) She needs more public proofing, and we need to work on her heel big time. Eric helped me work with her on heel this morning and she had almost a perfect heel with him! What the heck? I'm a little bit bolstered by this, I'd rather it was me screwing it up, I can fix myself.

But I'd have 3 months, right?

What's the worst that can happen? We don't qualify? At least we tried. I think I'm gonna do it. It'll be her first time in any sort of competition, but if I have my way, far from the last.

Violet says ha, ha, ha, mom. You think I'm gonna heel that well by then? Ha, ha, ha.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wonder Muffins.

The Violet picture apropos of nothing, this post is about recipes. Today kicks off Healthy Eating Week, which - budget and popularity allowing - will segue into Healthy Eating Lifetime. Eric, Adam, and Mary are far from health food fans, and in fact have absolutely no criteria for food other than "tastes good." I'm getting married in 11 months and I'd really like to take off some weight before then. My initial plan was to make them whatever and make myself a separate, healthy meal, but I decided that if at all possible, it'd be better and more cost effective to try to combine the two.

So tonight I embarked upon an easy, tasty sounding Hungry Girl recipe for Honey Mustard Pretzel Coated Chicken Fingers. They were awesome. Mary is allergic to anything relatively healthy and said that they were the best thing I've ever made, and Eric said that on a 1-10 scale they're an 8, and really, this is very, very high praise from him. The 16 year old liked them a lot, too. I wanted them to be a little crispier, but I enjoyed them. It's for 1, so I just multiplied as needed. Mind you, it's not truly health food, but it's not unhealthy. With some Green Giant Garden Medley (yummy red potatoes, sugar snap peas, and red bell peppers) and crescent rolls (still in the fridge from the last, less health-conscious shopping trip, and I'm not about to waste good crescent rolls), it was a great dinner.

PER SERVING (entire recipe): 349 calories, 2.5g fat, 928mg sodium, 39g carbs, 1g fiber, 13.5g sugars, 37g protein -- PointsPlus® value 8*

  • 3 tbsp. honey mustard 
  • 2 tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original) 
  • 5 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, cut into 4 strips 
  • 2 dashes salt 
  • 2 dashes black pepper 
  • 1 oz. (about 10 twists) hard salted pretzels, finely crushed 
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix mustard with egg substitute in a small bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and then submerge in the mustard-egg mixture. Set aside to marinate for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Mix crushed pretzels with sugar and spread out on a plate.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Thoroughly coat chicken strips with the pretzel-sugar mixture, and then transfer to the baking sheet. (Discard excess mustard-egg mixture.) Mist the tops of the strips with nonstick spray.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through baking, until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Eat and enjoy!


Awesome. I highly recommend it.

Meanwhile, I was baking. I found a recipe for Blueberry Power Muffins, intended as a breakfast. At 244 calories for two muffins and some decent ingredients (yogurt, almonds, oats, whole wheat flour), I thought, hey, why not? The recipe says that they can also be frozen and easily reheated for a breakfast, or just one with a 100 calorie bowl of oatmeal would make a nice, 222 calorie breakfast.

So I made them. I was a little leery because honestly, I'm not a fan of yogurt, and the batter smelled pretty yogurty. But if I may have a moment of adult language, holy shit. I tried one, and it was massively delicious. Like oh my god delicious. Like no one would know if I hid in the kitchen and ate them all delicious. Of course that would defeat the purpose of their relatively healthy properties, but I can't even believe that these things are healthy. Nothing that delicious can be healthy. I made it with skim milk, Egg Beaters, and probably slightly more blueberries than called for. Without further ado...

Blueberry Power Muffins with Almond Streusel
We call these "power" muffins because they're loaded with B vitamins from whole wheat flour, calcium from milk and yogurt, antioxidants from blueberries, and heart-friendly monounsaturated fat from almonds and canola oil. You can freeze the muffins for up to a month, then thaw them at room temperature, or microwave each muffin at HIGH 15 to 20 seconds.
Yield: 15 servings (serving size: 2 muffins)

PER SERVING: Calories: 244, Calories from fat: 23%, Fat: 6.1g, Saturated fat: 1.3g, Monounsaturated fat: 2.9g, Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g, Protein: 6.1g, Carbohydrate: 42.3g, Fiber: 2.5g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Iron: 1.5mg, Sodium: 260mg, Calcium: 136mg

Muffin Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Cooking spray

Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. To prepare muffins, lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Make a well in center of mixture.
  4. Combine yogurt, milk, oil, vanilla, and egg, stirring with a whisk.
  5. Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.
  6. Fold in blueberries.
  7. Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons batter into each of 30 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
  8. To prepare streusel, combine 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, almonds, brown sugar, and butter. Sprinkle evenly over batter.
  9. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.
  10. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.
You want to make them. Get up, get off of Blogger, go to the grocery store, and make these muffins.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


There are no quality pictures to be had today. Most of these are cell phone pictures, as the camera is whatever's between on its last leg and dead.

At the daycare last week, we asked the four year olds what they wanted for Christmas and tacked them up underneath a paper tree on the bulletin boards.

I hear you, Mya. I'd like a guy, a house, and a baby in the house, too. Halfway there.

What four year old wants a fruit basket for Christmas?

A pretty ballsy request.

Ms. Edith is a preschool teacher with a six month old baby of her own. No surprise here.

It snowed today! We've had "first snow of the year where there were flakes falling from the sky," and "first light dusting of snow," but today was the first real snow. Half the kids didn't show up for daycare, so the three and four year old rooms were combined. They were entranced.

I was excited to get home and see what the dogs thought about it. They loved it.

Speaking of the camera dying - time for that Christmas present round-up post!
We were extremely fortunate.
The house (Eric, Adam, me, Mary) has...
  • A Wii system, with games and a Wii Fit, some other things. Holy cannoli, I did not see that one coming.
  • An electronic Monopoly game.

 I have...
  • A beautiful Collie tote bag to use when school starts in January. The dog on it looks a lot like Violet, and has a purple background - my favorite color.
  • A stocking full of school supplies and cow tales, including a super cute hippo flash drive and purple paper clips.
  • A recipe binder that I desperately needed and wanted.
  • An Archiver's gift card.
  • A cookbook (with adorable cookie cutters) of organic dog treat recipes.
  • Two Sims 2 stuff packs. For the Sims fans out there (I'm talking to you, Lorelei) - IKEA and Kitchen & Bath. Yes!
  • My favorite perfume - big bottle.
  • A brand new purple camera. Yessss! I am super excited to get to try it out.
  • Hungry Girl 300 Under 300 - the cookbook I've been lusting after.
  • Some hair ties from Cassie.
  • Photo coasters.
  • A candle.
Eric has...
  • The German Shepherd Dog: A Genetic History by Malcolm Willis.
  • A shirt that says "Evolution of the German Shepherd" with the evolution line and a GSD as the final thing.
  • An agility class with Piper.
  • Lord of the Rings Triology. Sigh.
  • A training vest for Piper. Seeing a theme here?
  • A Madden Game for the Wii.
  • A picture frame.
  • Socks, which may be his favorite gift.
  • More Wii controllers.
  • An iPod with very nice speakers.

Cookbook cover.

Cookbook back cover.

Recipe cards!

Collie bag. 

It was a very blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011.

Christmas was wonderful. We had breakfast and gift exchange with Mary and Adam, then I baked sugar cookies, The Famous Pearch Cobbler, and Mud Pie, and Eric's family all came over and we had another gift exchange and dinner. The dogs were nearly flawless. I feel very good about them and kids - Cassie was swinging and spinning around and accidentally hit, kicked, fell on Piper I don't know how many times and Piper just sighed. Didn't even relocate herself. Just was like, whatever. Violet didn't jump on anyone a single time.

After dinner, Eric's grandfather announced, "I am 66 years old, and I have only one regret." Someone asked what it was, and he said - "That I didn't know about Brianne's pearch cobbler 66 years ago. Little did I know, 23 years ago, that the person who would bring me my favorite dessert was being born." Jeez. I don't really know what it is about that stuff, but people go a little nuts.

Eric and Adam have been complaining since I've known them that their mother has a long history of never feeding anyone on Christmas. They wake up, have to open everything before they can eat, and dinner never really happens. They have traumatized expressions when they talk about it, like concentration camp survivors. So I got up a little early and made everyone waffles in the waffle maker, before present opening. Banana waffles, chocolate/chocolate chip waffles, cinnamon nutmeg waffles. There was peace in the lands.

Wrapping presents on Christmas Eve.

The dogs each had a stocking.

Christmas garland.

During gift opening.

Mary hearts monkeys. We got her what she decided was a candy jar. I also made her a shadowbox with her sons and (luckily, both male) dogs.

After waffles and stockings and gift exchange and piles of new dog toys, the dogs were both tuckered out. Little did they know, seven family members were en route with food, presents, and noise.

Right when I was on the hunt for a third dessert for Christmas dinner, a blog that I follow called The Life of Rylee shared a recipe for Mud Pie that looked fun and tasty, so I made a mud pie. It's similar to brownies which I'm not a huge fan of myself, but it was very easy to make, came out great, and was a hit with everyone. Thanks for sharing, The Life of Rylee!

You can take the girl out of the veterinary clinic, but you can't take the clinic out of the girl. I decorated the sugar cookies with homemade icing in 1ml syringes. Worked great. When Josie, a fellow member-by-relationship of this family and a fellow ex-vet tech showed up, she sidled up to the counter and said "Nice." Everyone was else was just "Oh my god, what's been in those?" (Nothing, if you're wondering. They were sterile. I had extras from a foster kitten who was on liquid pain meds.)

With 10 people in the living room (one room away, practically the same room - open floor plan), food everywhere, chaos, presents, wrapping paper balls...Violet's place was by my side, in the kitchen. Not even begging. And that is why I love her.

Cassie helped me decorate.

Laying with her head in my lap.

Peep needs a nail trim. I like her feet.

Collie hair on everything, even the Shepherd.

The $400 book Eric didn't think he was going to get. (No, I did not pay $400 for it.)

New shirt.

Our little far.

There will be a present round-up post tomorrow, because they were fantastic.